EASME has published a Call for Tenders to develop an assistance mechanism for investment in the blue economy. It comes after CLIPPER partners and DG MARE discussed how to provide fit-for-purpose public/private support to maritime SMEs.

Back-to-back with their meeting in Fife, CLIPPER partners organised a discussion on 5 July, 2018, with Mr Bernhard Friess, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Mr Friess explained that the blue economy covers a very large spectrum of activities, including emerging activities, traditional fisheries and shipbuilding.

Partners had the opportunity to exchange views and present regional best practices. From DG MARE’s perspective, this meeting was a continuation of a longer-term initiative on the blue economy.

This initiative included the "BlueInvest 2018" event they organised in May 2018, which enabled 20 selected, innovative, blue economy businesses to pitch to groups of investors. They will form part of a larger ‘project pipeline’ which DG MARE will have available in autumn 2018.

The pipeline will include more than 500 potentially investable/bankable and innovative maritime pre-commercial ventures, in particular SMEs, focusing on technologies, service and business models relevant to EU priorities and which help to promote sustainable development goals by “greening” blue economy value chains and/or delivering other social and environmental benefits.

Mr Friess also indicated that DG MARE was aiming to identify a list of 35 high-quality projects with a dedicated investment dossier to present to investors by autumn 2018.

Mr Friess said that his services have been in discussion with the European Investment Bank, National Promotional Banks (NPBs) and with private investors about possible co-investment arrangements to promote such innovative blue economy ventures. He mentioned that the services of the European Commission were exploring the feasibility of a Blue Economy Investment Platform as well as the interest it would have for the private sector and local authorities working in the blue economy.

During summer 2018, EASME published a Call for Tenders aiming to select a service provider to set up and operate an ‘Assistance Mechanism (AM)’ that will support access to finance for SMEs, start-ups, early stage businesses and scale-ups in the blue economy. The goal of these services is to select ventures/companies to increase their level of investment readiness, and ultimately facilitate investment in these ventures/companies by private and/or public investors.

In particular, it will:

• set up and operate a blue ‘investment and innovation community’;

• help SMEs to become investment-ready and address identified areas of weaknesses through coaching, mentoring, advisory and support services;

• help SMEs to close business deals with investors;

• prepare a Blue Economy Investment Platform;

• expand an investable project pipeline.

The development of this Assistance Mechanism is of great importance for CLIPPER's partners. CLIPPER will follow it with interest.